Kudos to North Dakota legislators for pushing a bill that that will restrict state bureaucrats from blocking worship and religious practices during a state of emergency while ensuring that participation in faith activities is not treated with punitive bias. In theory, Constitutional rights should not need “extra” state protections, but we have learned that they do. Other states should follow suit.
The Founding Fathers recognized freedom of expression and religious liberty as core elements of diversity and tolerance. Now, nearly 250 years later, Congress is acting to stamp them out, ushering in a new era of government-sanctioned anti-religious bigotry.
ACRU recently defended an Anne Arundel, MD pastor fined by the health department for not wearing a mask in an empty building. Now a local judge is questioning county officials about their desire to put local restaurants out of business. Restaurants have paid lobbyists and lawyers; churches don't. We hope local courts will take notice of their loss of liberty as well, soon, even without the paid influence.
Many people of faith want to get back to church, and some are too worried about COVID to attend in person. Both are Constitutionally protected choices. After California Gov. Newsom decided worshippers couldn’t sing, but rioters could “protest,” Sun Valley Community Church Pastor John MacArthur sued the Governor, State AG and LA Mayor over their anti-indoor service restrictions. A judge familiar with our first freedoms sided with the faithful.
Chief Justice John Roberts ruled this week that religious gatherings have the same constitutional protections as football games or Who concerts and therefore state governments CAN limit access to worship. The Chief Justice sided with the 4 leftist judges to reach this conclusion. We wish we were making this up. This has left us gasping in surprise, but not giving up - EVER - on defending your first freedom to worship.
In a month of religious observances for Christians, Jews and Muslims, AG Bill Barr again shows his willingness to fight for religious liberty where it is NOT found. The left's hostility toward people of faith is not new, but liberals using a virus as a reason to tamp down freedom to worship is. As faith leaders find innovative ways to meet that pose no threat to viral spread, local authorities have no business ticketing people in cars during drive-in services, for example. We are glad that our AG agrees.
The Department of Justice is holding seminars on religious freedom law for its staff and attorneys. DOJ has been actively defending individual religious freedom in cases for Muslims, Christians and Jews, none of which infringe on the liberty of anyone else. Aiding the left in its unending battle against people of faith, the NYT wrote fake news smearing the program. Fortunately, constitutional voices fought back.
While the 9th Circuit was explaining that liberal billionaires have a right to censor, the Department of Justice was explaining that government has no right to coerce an individual to engage, or not engage, in economic activity based on that person's religious belief. It's called religious "freedom." Perhaps that's the word that confuses progressive activists and their cadre of "victims" who deliberately target Christian wedding vendors just to make their wrong-headed, hypocritical point.
The disturbing rise in anti-semitism in the U.S. is unacceptable, and at ACRU, we have no intention of ignoring it. Religious freedom is for all faiths and those who enjoy the freedom to worship walk together in its defense. Since the horrific Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in October 2018, the reporting of anti-semitic attacks in the media has notably increased. Some of these disgraceful attacks come in the form of public insults and slurs, and there are also numerous cases of stabbings (even inside a rabbi's home), assaults, harassment and vandalism. Many of these hate crimes occurred in New York City where its hoodlum class seem to be using anti-semitism as a new form of "wilding." We know our Advocate readers will join us in acknowledging this heinous trend and calling it out every time it is found.
On January 16th, America celebrated National Religious Freedom Day. At ACRU, we list our Constitutional religious freedom where the Founders did-first. To commemorate the 1786 Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson, President Trump issued a proclamation honoring our nation's founding in religious freedom but noting "the fundamental right to religious freedom is under attack." In America, there is room for everyone's rights. Freedom to worship or not worship. Freedom to make whatever life choices one wants to make. What should never be accepted is the "freedom" of one group to oppress the freedoms of others. Thanks to David Closson at the National Review for this great article about "a radical idea from the Founding Fathers that still works today."